So itchy and it just won't stop - cholestasis of pregnancy

Pregnancy is a beautiful time for many expectant mothers, but it's not always the most comfortable time. One of the complications of pregnancy that can cause much distress to a pregnant woman is cholestasis of pregnancy, which causes unstoppable and at times painful itching due to impairment of the flow of bile from the liver. Read on to see if you are experiencing this condition: 

How do I know if my itching is cholestasis of pregnancy?

Cholestasis of pregnancy presents as an intense itch without a rash, which worsens during the day and becomes worse over the course of a pregnancy. The itching can occur in any location but often starts in the palms of the hands and soles of the feet.  Other symptoms such as jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and skin) and darker urine can also be seen. To get a formal diagnosis you'll need to visit a pregnancy specialist for liver function tests, which will show elevated levels of some proteins if you are suffering from cholestasisOther liver disorders as well as serious disorders such as pre-eclampsia can also cause similar symptom so it's important to visit a pregnancy specialist who can properly explore the possible causes to find the correct diagnosis.

Why me?

It's hard to say why or if an expectant mother will get cholestasis of pregnancy. It's more common in cases where there is already impaired liver function, such as hepatitis, and often runs in families. Women who have suffered from cholestasis of pregnancy in one pregnancy often suffer from it in subsequent pregnancies.

What can I do about it?

Cholestasis poses little risk to the mother, beside discomfort, but in the final month of pregnancy it can pose some risks to your baby such as the risk of premature labour and potential fetal death (the mechanism for the fetal distress is not yet understood). The itching intensifies as pregnancy progresses along. Your pregnancy specialist will monitor the progress of your pregnancy and may prescribe medication to help control the itching. They will also monitor the progress of the baby's development, including lung maturity, with a view to an early delivery of the baby. Delivery of the baby immediately resolves the symptoms.

Some women also find warm baths and lotions soothing. Be sure to discuss with your pregnancy specialist before commencing any treatments including over the counter medications and herbal cures. Some of these are not safe for use during pregnancy and may not be suitable.

Cholestasis of pregnancy is a serious problem that needs to be appropriately monitored to ensure your baby stays safe and healthy throughout your pregnancy. Finding an experienced pregnancy specialist can help to mitigate these risks so you can enjoy a worry-free pregnancy. For more information on women's health, contact a practice like Total Women's Health .​